Cooperative Education and Internship Programs: Employer FAQs

1.  How do Cooperative Education/Internship Programs work?

College Cooperative education/Internship offices partner with employers covering a wide range of academic areas. Through this collaboration, employers list job opportunities and colleges provide pre-screened student applicants that meet job requirements. Students earn academic credit as part of the cooperative education program and are given the opportunity to test-drive their chosen career paths. Through a cooperative education/internship program, students learn about developing resumes, the job search and interviewing process, and receive guidance from co-op professionals.

While interns are an excellent resource for employers, the student gains a first-hand look at corporate culture and an organization's working environment. They also learn about different career paths within an industry, the value of networking and how these connections can help in their future job searches. This is the perfect scenario for students to gain a better understanding of career paths and the types of opportunities available.

This is also the perfect time for employers to look at the current crop of students, evaluate their performance and when there is a good fit, entertain the possibility of full-time employment. A win-win situation for employer and intern! 

2.  How will our company benefit by joining NJCEIA?

  • Co-op programs build positive relationships between businesses and New Jersey’s colleges and universities
  • Gain visibility and develop your professional network through the NJCEIA Membership Directory
  • Benchmark best practices through Annual Conferences, Roundtable Discussions, and Professional Development Workshops
  • Develop your own leadership and advancement potential through membership and involvement in NJCEIA Programs and committees

3.  How do I join NJCEIA as an employer member?

  • To join NJCEIA, please click the "Join/Renew" button in the menu at the top of this page.

4.  What is the cost?

  • Membership costs $125 per organization for up to 4 members – each additional member is $10. Please see the "Join Us" page for information on individual memberships and more.

5.  Why should I consider hiring co-op students or interns?

  • The cost of recruiting co-op students averages sixteen times less than recruiting recent college graduates.
  • Almost 50 percent of co-op students accept permanent positions with their co-op employers. The retention of college graduates after 5 years of employment is 30% greater for co-op graduates.
  • Typically, co-op students receive lower salaries and fewer fringe benefits than permanent employees. Total wages average 40% less for co-op students. In addition, employers are not required to pay unemployment compensation taxes on wages of co-op students if they are enrolled in a qualified program.
  • The percentage of minority group members hired is twice as high among co-op students as among recent college graduates, thus assisting co-op employers in meeting EEO objectives.
  • Co-op programs provide an opportunity to evaluate employees prior to a decision regarding full-time employment.
  • The co-op graduate's work performance is superior to that of a college graduate without co-op. Students are more flexible and easily adapt to a professional environment.
  • Regular staff members are freed up from more basic aspects of their jobs to focus on more demanding and profitable assignments.
  • Co-op programs supply students who have new ideas and fresh approaches. Co-op students bring state-of-the-art technical knowledge to their work assignments.
  • Co-op graduates are promoted sooner (and further) than other graduates. 

6.  How can I set up a co-op or internship program at my company?

  • Create a job description that gets progressively more complex over the course of the internship, and define the work as either an assistant to a position, special project work or an all-around trainee.
  • Though many internships are unpaid, for a co-op program, create a wage structure that is competitive, but low enough to allow room for good performance raises and still not reach the pay scale of entry-level staffers.
  • In New Jersey, you are not required to pay interns on paid holidays, nor to pay unemployment tax, but make it clear what fringe benefits they receive. 
  • Appoint a supervisor. The supervisor/student ratio can vary: PSE&Gs accounting department supervisor helps two to three students at a time, while at IBMs Princeton facility, a single supervisor headed a whole department of interns at one time. Typically, however, there is only one person supervising each intern.

7.  How do I go about hiring a co-op student?

  • Please look through the NJCEIA Member Directory and locate the schools that are closest to your location.
  • Call the Career Services/Cooperative Education office to discuss their process as each school handles their programs a bit differently.

8.  Is there a cost to recruiting co-op students?

  • No. The only cost you will incur is, of course, the salary you decide to pay the student.

9.  How much should I pay my co-op student?

  • Salaries are market-driven and vary by discipline, academic level, industry, etc. CEIA publishes an up-to-date salary survey to show what students are being paid, which may help you make this decision. 

10. What are the minimum hours students need to work to qualify for a co-op work term?

  • Every school has different requirements for their co-op students to receive credit. Please check with the particular school that you are interested in for details. 

11. Can I hire a co-op student anytime?

  • Yes. Co-op students are available year-round (fall, spring and summer) for most schools. But again, it’s best to check each school’s program and policies. 

12. How will I know what discipline to advertise for?

  • Talk to one of our member Co-op Coordinators. They will be happy to review your needs and discuss the wide variety of student skills and program knowledge available to you. 

13. What is my commitment to a co-op or internship?

  • A position should only be offered to a student when you expect work to be available for the entire semester. You should provide appropriate training and support for the student as a typical new employee.
  • The student should be paid at an appropriate wage rate.
  • You should provide the student with productive work assignments generally related to his/her major.
  • Most schools will ask you to complete a brief, formal evaluation of the student's performance at the end of the work term. 

14. Will anyone visit my student during the work term?

  • Many schools will request to meet briefly on-site with the student and their supervisor at your convenience at least once during the work term.

2015 New Jersey Cooperative Education & Internship Association

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